The largest clinical trial of its kind, testing medicinal cannabis to treat chemotherapy patients suffering from nausea, has been announced by New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.
About 330 patients are expected to take part in the clinical trial which will use a cannabis-derived tablet manufactured by Canadian company Tilray.
The Premier met cancer patients at Sydney treatment centre, the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, to announce the latest trial.
Mr Baird said the drug was only for people suffering nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
“Our hope is as it is proven, we have a position where this will be available to whoever needs it,” the Premier said.
“I think all of us who know people who are in the battle for their lives, to have some form of relief to give them strength, to give them energy, to stare down cancer and to take it on – well, that’s what this is all about.”
The medicinal cannabis trial is the third of its kind in NSW – the other two have been for terminally ill patients and children with severe epilepsy.
On Wednesday, the Federal Parliament passed legislation to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Using Canadian manufacturer will cut waiting time
Minister for Medical Research in NSW Pru Goward said it would take too long to wait for an Australian manufacturer for this trial.
“To wait for an Australian company to get up to scratch would delay what we’re doing,” she said.
“We committed to doing this within 12 months and that’s what we’re doing because there is so much suffering.”
Associate Professor Peter Grimison said there had been other trials, but none as large or comprehensive as this.
“There are some preliminary trials showing that cannabis can help nausea due to chemotherapy but a lot of them are very old, when we didn’t have good medications,” he said.
“This will be the largest trial in the world in terms of cannabis relieving the nausea side-effects of chemotherapy.”
Brendan Kennedy from Tilray said other trials he was involved in were much smaller.
“We’re providing our drug for a few other studies around the world – a PTSD trial for 40 Canadian military vets with the University of British Columbia,” he said.
“We’re also doing two studies for children with epilepsy in Canada but those are much smaller.
“This one, certainly in terms of chemotherapy and nausea is the largest in the world.”